Thursday, April 1, 2010

What's So Good About Good Friday?

It is easier for us to meditate on the Cross if our image of it involves plaster and paint. I grew up in the Catholic church where there was always a life size image of the crucified Christ. For years I looked up at Him and He looked down at me and there was a hint of reality, more so than in the empty crosses in many Protestant churches.

The Protestants say that Jesus isn't on the cross any longer and I get that but He was on that cross and it was anything but empty. It was His real flesh and blood and not plaster. An exhausted, exsanguinated Jesus was made to carry that very cross. He was pounded onto its rough, splintery surface by hands that were far from gentle. Then He hung there an hour for every day of Creation in plain sight of His suffering mother and in obedience to the will of His Father.

Mary had once answered the call of God on her own life with, "Be it done unto me according to your word." Looking up at her son now does she for a moment wish her answer had been different? The Stabet Mater used for the Stations of the Cross says, "Bruised, reviled, cursed, defiled, she beheld her tender child, all with bloody scourges rent." As a mother I can't even go to that place but she lived there with Him for all the long hours of His Passion. "Father, if you will, let this cup pass from me but not my will but yours..." sounds so much like "Be it done unto me..." He was her son alright and He was dying.

Many books, songs and sermons have been written to tell us what's so good about Good Friday. My heart tells me just this one thing: That when the flesh of His hands and feet pulled against the nails, when the splinters impaled his torn back, with blood filling his eyes, He looked up and out across time and He saw me sitting at this keyboard loving Him... and it brought Him JOY!

Enduring love and the joy of who I would become kept Him on that filthy cross when they taunted Him to prove His power by summoning legions of angel deliverers. He kept faith with me when I didn't even know Him. When I didn't even exist except in His mind. When emails and blogs had yet to become an instrument of praise.

We were all part of the drama and we were all part of His joy. The scriptures attest to it. For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross disregarding the shame...Hebrews 12. Joy for shame. That was the trade the day Grace took the hammer from our hands.

One dark afternoon long ago, on a hill that reeked of blood and fear and death, Love radiating from the Cross reached all the way to this moment, to this woman...and to you...and that's what's good about Good Friday.

"Upon the cross of Jesus my eyes at times can see

The very dying form of one who suffered there for me;

And from my smitten heart, with tears, two wonders I confess:

The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross your shadow for my abiding place;

I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face;

Content to let my pride go by, to know no gain nor loss,

My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross."

by Elizabeth Clephane

May you abide in the shadow of the cross for a few moments today remembering that He willingly stretched Himself out upon it for love of you.

The Sixth Hour

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